Take Care Of Yourself
Chapter one: A week and twenty years
[Characters and setting belong to J K Rowling. Everything else is my own.]
When infant Harry is rescued from the Dursleys to be raised by his Were-uncle Moony, his Godfather Lord Black, and his time-turned future self, the biggest question is obviously... who gets to be the mommy?
This is a fun time-travel fic. Violence, but no explicit adult themes. The fic features sensible extensions to the uses of canon magical objects. In general it will be lighthearted, but this first chapter has a grimmer tone than the rest of the story, so don't judge it too early.
Sixteen years after Monday
"Oh Merlin, it's over. It's over, Harry! We're saved!"
"Come on, Harry. We've got to go. Word's spreading."
Something blurry swam in and out of the darkness.
"Come on Harry, mate, you've got to get up. The bastard wasn't bluffing. We've got to find a portkey out of here while there are still any left."
"Harry! Harry, I've got to find my parents, I'll catch you up."
The young man's world whirled dizzyingly, and he retched for the umpteenth time that day.
"You okay there, Harry? Look, lie down. We're getting you out of here before those things show up. People are saying they're almost at Hogwarts."
Blissful darkness, and then echoing voices again.
"You're up? Good. Hermione made it, Harry, her parents too. We're in France. The healers will be round to see you when they've seen to the wounded and checked nobody's carrying the infection. No, don't try to sit u-"
Shadows ate up who knew how much time. He could make out vague shapes amongst them.
"I'm sorry, Harry. They had the service yesterday. The healers insisted on keeping you under. I- I know Ron and Charlie and Molly will understand."
"Oh, God. I'm so glad you're okay, Harry. I- I recovered his portrait."
A familiar beard, long and white and strangely out-of-focus. Feelings for this beard had been forced into the distance. No, feelings about the beard's owner. Harry tried to remember who it was.
"I don't know if anyone told you the news, Harry... they went ahead and just wiped it clean. The muggles burnt the whole country to the ground. The quarantine was working, those ungodly things were confined to the land, but then they went and dropped their atom bombs anyway. Can you hear me, Harry?"
"Please talk to me, Harry. Look, I brought you some soup..."
An excited face, for the first time in – how long?
"Harry, try to focus. I know you can understand me. I just discovered that – that there might be something we can do."
Twenty years after Monday
"You have the veritaserum? And the polyjuice?"
"And the pepper-up? Oh, and the healing potions? The half-teaspoon of phoenix tears?"
"Yes, yes and yes, Hermione."
"You've got my portrait case, right?"
"I know, I know. I'm just nervous. Are you really sure you want to use that wand to do the spell?"
"Yes, Hermione. It'll be useful afterward, and I can always ditch it if I'm worried."
"Fine. Where are the primary rune stones?"
"On the sheet behind you, Hermione. Can I finish the circle now?"
"Yes, of course. Here, I'll hammer the outer runes in. Oh! Do you have your time turner?"
"Of course, Hermione."
"Don't roll your eyes at me. Fine, if you've got everything... Um. I guess I'll be seeing you, Harry. Well, I mean, I won't be, but-"
"Yeah. I know. Don't look so upset, it's only the last couple of weeks you'll be losing. Listen, don't worry, I'll let you and the Old Man out to play as soon as I get to Godric's Hollow."
"Haha. Right. Goodbye, Harry. Good luck. Oh, and... take care of yourself."
"I will. Goodbye, Hermione. Vicis ianua."
There was a flash of bright blue light, and then only one person stood in the room for the fraction of a moment before the universe disappeared.
A wan young man appeared from thin air, looking suddenly drained as he dropped an inch to the ground.
Blue light crackled around his body for a moment, forming strange shapes in the air before dispersing. He immediately stumbled, sinking to his knees and shivering violently. The strange leather pouches strung about him clinked and clattered.
Slowly, he raised his head disbelievingly to the summer sun. He was standing in a vineyard. Cows browsed placidly nearby, not giving his sudden appearance a second thought. A small, old villa stood against the horizon. The rural scene was improbably picturesque.
"I'm back, baby."
His voice was cracked and hoarse with effort. His fringe flicked across the faded scar on his forehead as he spoke.
The young man fumbled for a tiny bottle and slugged back its contents, then shook his head briskly and managed to stand upright, wisps of steam curling from his nostrils and ears.
He grinned up at a strange sky, a sky not shrouded by dust, and let out a cackling whoop.
Then his knees wobbled and he stumbled a little more. He turned quickly on his heel and disappeared with an echoing CRACK.
The cows continued to graze.
The tiny amount of light that drifted in through grimy windows from the late evening sky blinked out as a new shadow appeared in the room.
"Damn it. Lumos."
A bright light played across various shapes, bringing their silhouettes into sharp relief.
The man was looking considerably more chipper now, the dark circles under his eyes reduced to crow's feet. He had changed his robes for dark-coloured muggle clothes, and a faint aroma of spearmint suggested his body was currently running on pepper-up.
"Ah. The guest room. Well, that'll do."
Shuffling footsteps and distracted muttering were audible from the hall, and getting closer. The young man nodded to himself and waved a casual hand. The wand thrummed with power. Golden symbols drifted in the air, to settle in the door and walls. Light winked across the floor and ceiling, sealing out the whole world.
The dark-haired youth flicked his wand rapidly, and objects shattered all across the room, some bursting into shrapnel, others twisting into tiny compressed clusters, many burning with clouds of foul smoke and ethereal shrieks. Soon there was little left in the room but the bed and the wardrobe.
"That felt good. Scourgify. Argh, um... Scourgify maximus."
He stood back to regard the clean and bare room with some satisfaction, then unpacked several scaly mokeskin pouches onto the bed. Faint but furious mumblings could be heard from behind the wards on the door.
A different voice rang out from the bed. "Remember, you'll need the stuff on your list before you go and fetch him."
"Right, right. Be back soon."
The scene shifted abruptly, and the young man stood outside a chemist shop in a quiet little street. The CLOSED sign hung in the window.
With a little metallic noise, the lock came off the door, and he slipped inside, whispering something at the alarm above the doorway.
Five minutes later he stepped outside again, hands full of medicines, baby supplies, skin cosmetics, and a small bottle of chloroform. As an afterthought, he nipped back into the shop and snagged a bag of sherbet lemons from the counter.
A minute later, half of a huge yawn hung in the air, cut off by the young man's sudden disappearance.
Emerald green eyes looked up into emerald green eyes. The larger ones stared down in curiosity and mild concern, wrinkling up at the corners as the young man smiled.
The child, thumb in mouth, regarded him solemnly.
Gentle hands picked him up, stroked his hair and balanced him carefully on a hip, and the man stole away into the night without a single glance back.
Far away to the north, an old man roused suddenly from a light doze as the instruments on his desk went haywire. They were reporting a fiftyfold spike in the magical core of young Harry Potter, followed by his sudden disappearance.
That was worrying. What was worse, nobody other than the usual four inhabitants had been detected in the house.
"Yes, that's right. Master Regulus was a brave, good man. Stand back, please, Kreacher, and we'll finish his life's work."
The dirty house elf's crusty eyes lit up, and he let go of the ugly piece of jewellery, capering about in manic glee. Meanwhile, Harry raised his wand, scowling.
The snake-embossed amulet before them squealed, its two halves fluttering in panic, before the sound withered in the air.
The pendant stilled, and a ghostly grey-green vapour flowed from it, spitting and hissing in the air. A flick of the wand and it faded away into oblivion.
All that remained was a metal locket, slightly warped by the curse's impact.
The house elf gave a groan of ecstasy and stopped short in his capers. He fell on his back and kicked his arms and legs spasmodically, continuing to moan.
Harry averted his eyes, lest a tea towel flop aside at exactly the wrong moment.
"Right, thank you, Kreacher, enough of that. Now, please clean the master bedroom thoroughly, and tell me when you're done so I can move the cot in there. Once you're done there, move on to the rest of the house. I won't be able to bring you a new Lord Black to serve until you have!"
The rat snoozed in the sun on the window sill.
If somebody had been nearby, and bothered to squint one eye against the light and blink the other rapidly, they might have noticed something. There were faint patches of broomsticky air, concealed by a ghostly disillusionment charm, directly outside the open window.
Above the invisible broom, two hands appeared from somewhere. One was empty and promptly darted out to grab the rat, bringing it to the other, which contained a rag.
The fat little vermin woke abruptly, opening its mouth to squeal, then relaxed, eyes drifting shut again. The hands vanished, tucked away beneath a patch of invisible space.
A moment later, the broomstick disappeared even more.
Harry appeared in a slightly dank room, and noted that the rubble was already gone from the floor. Several of the stuffed monkeys in amorous poses on the sideboard had been washed and combed. There was even some sort of doily on the carnivorous coffee table.
He looked down at the unconscious rat in his hand, wondering aloud exactly how useful a security ward was if it kept out stunning spells but let a Death Eater live in your house for several years.
He transfigured a sturdy cage, and stuffed the rat inside. Then he dug a small bottle out of one pocket and a black quill from another.
A man, carrying a baby in his arms, knocked at a door. A werewolf answered, then clutched at his heart in shock.
Two men looked at each other for a moment, both ravaged by fatigue and the marks of old violence.
The werewolf's eyes, wide with surprise, kept going from the dark-haired baby to the dark-haired man and back again.
Fifteen minutes later, the younger man left, lighter by one bottled memory, one photograph and one confession signed in blood. Similar documents had been mailed out at dawn to foreign newspapers and the International Council of Wizards' committee on international law. Those packages would be arriving soon.
The young man apparated to the Daily Prophet office to drop off copies of the same documents, then arrived at the Ministry of Magic with a heavily-chained sleeping Death Eater and yet more Pensieve memories.
A dirty nappy combined with a brilliantly-engineered coffee spill led, quite fluidly, to the youth's escape. He smiled and shook a little tension from his shoulders, glad to be once more outside the whirlwind of bewildered questions and stupid assumptions.
Thousands of miles away, in the inkiest uncharted metaphorical slums of the North Sea, an emotional werewolf helped a nervous guard row a small dinghy towards a dark, forboding island fortress.
Harry put his feet up on the end of the sofa, knocked the end off a flagon of pumpkin rum with a severing charm, and relaxed.
"I'm glad you got here okay – and you got here okay – but there are still things you should be doing," said a voice from inside his shirt.
Harry fished out the locket and mock-glared into it, trying to keep the smile off his face. "Come onnnn, Hermione, I'm right on schedule. Besides, you're two-dimensional. You don't know how badly that twenty-year jump messed up my body. If Madam Pomfrey was here she wouldn't hesitate to prescribe me six months bed rest, or maybe a coffin."
The tiny portrait within the locket frame huffed, and went blank. A moment later the young woman's face appeared on the much larger canvas by Harry's feet.
"You should be preparing for when Sirius gets out," she said.
"Hmmm, I suppose you're right." Harry sipped thoughtfully at the broken pottery lip of the bottle. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I have two decades of future knowledge, an infant version of myself, access to the man's home and he should be a bit disjointed from reality after a year in Azkaban. I'm going to need the mother of all pranks to make the most of these resources. Ideas?"
"Harry! I meant getting your cover together, preparing your finances..."
"Hermione, I love you, but if you don't let me get at least a few hours' rest I'm going to go glue you face-to-face with Old Mrs Black."
"Well, maybe you should go to bed instead of getting drunk and preparing to prank Sirius."
"I need some downtime as much as anyone. Listen, just this week I've travelled back in time twenty years, precision-apparated from France to England, broken into two magical houses and two muggle stores, kidnapped a two-year-old Hero of the Light and probably pissed off a two-hundred-year-old one, destroyed a seventh of Voldemort's soul, won over a house elf, dealt with a young version of myself without causing any paradoxes or giving in to the urge to drop me on my head, and, um, justified the mass-murdering criminal who betrayed my parents."
"I couldn't think of a word for 'brought to justice' that didn't sound stupid."
"So you picked 'justified'?"
"Yeah okay, shut up. Oh, and I learned how to change a baby."
The coffee table near his feet had a shiny new axe embedded in it. Propped against the handle was a second large portrait, which chuckled.
"Well done, my boy," said Albus Dumbledore, beaming at him. "Well done indeed."
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